REPORT: Millennials are Leaving New Jersey

millenials moving out of new jersey
Photo by Jared Kofsky

A recently released research report finds that Millennials are moving out of New Jersey. The youngest generation is drawn to urban-like areas where they can live, work, and play without having to drive a car.

The research was conducted by New Jersey Future, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, and included a new analysis of Census data that points toward two trends: one, Millennials are moving to walkable, urban, town centers; two, the Millennial population is on the decline in New Jersey. New Jersey simply doesn’t have enough towns that enable residents to walk to work as well as amenities, dining, and entertainment; although, there has been a steady increase of towns designated as transit centers since 1999.

Millennials are the largest generation in American history and essential to the economy of New Jersey. “They are leaders in living a less car-centric lifestyle. We as a state need to think about how to attract and retain this generation,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Pete Kasabach.

Only one out of five New Jersey municipalities scored well on all three of the smart-growth metrics: net activity density, the presence of a mixed-use center, and walkability plus street connectivity.

Housing prices could be a factor as well. Director of Research Tim Evans noted, “A number of municipalities scored high on smart-growth metrics and yet are not seeing high concentrations of Millennials. A lack of affordable housing options for people beginning their careers could be keeping Millennials out of these towns and cities.”


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  1. The way I see it – speaking as a millennial living in a walkable, transit-connected town in South Jersey – policy makers spent the 20th century focusing on how to make the suburbs good places to live as they left the state’s cities and older towns rot. The idea that we don’t have enough walkable places is an artificial problem created by that focus. There are truly plenty of walkable, great neighborhoods in New Jersey, but they’ve spent the past 50 years being disadvantaged by state, county, and local governmental policy. For instance, plenty of towns used to have direct rail to our neighboring cities or close to them. But those rail connections were allowed to go away in favor of highways. Highways now clogged with relentless traffic millennials refuse to sit in to get to work. New Jersey, and the rest of the country, needs to focus on fundamentals of what makes towns strong places to live instead of subsidizing never-ending suburban sprawl.

    • It’s almost like how could city planers be that incompetent. I’m no millennial ,as a child trains and electric busses brought a large percentage of people in a proficient mass transit system .At the risk of sounding crazy could the reason for abandonment of a great system be as simple as the new freeway transfer be seen as modern

    • I really feel it’s an intentional cycle. much focus in the last half century was on the suburbs, now it’s on the cities again, and in another 30-50 years, it’ll be back on the suburbs.

  2. I’m a millennial (30) and fully intend to leave New Jersey. It’s not because the towns are not walkable I could care less. It’s because I’m starting a family and my family and I can simply have a much standard of living in another state. New Jersey is simply too expensive.

    Millennials are not special. We’re leaving New Jersey for the same reason everyone else is. Thank you for the great education NJ, but now I’m taking that education and going somewhere that doesn’t rob me with property taxes, income tax, tolls and now gas tax (thanks Christie).

  3. I’m 28 and I left central NJ a few years ago after growing up and going to university here.

    It’s simply too expensive. Rent for a small apartment in NJ is more than all of my expenses combined here in a small city elsewhere. That, and the working class Catholic neighborhood I grew up in is entirely gone.

  4. also a millennial. I hate public transportation. Love driving my car from Hudson County down the shore. can hardly afford to live here anymore. lived in California for a year and actually found it to be less expensive just 30 mins outside of LA. certainly didn’t mind driving while living over there either.

    traffic’s not an issue if you know your way around, and know the best times to drive.

    all that said, wouldn’t mind leaving NJ again, or at the very least, get away from Hudson County. the hipsters are invading and it’s not comfortable.

    • and speaking of millenials…I’d say 9 out of my 10 friends feel the same way as I regarding public transportation/walkable places vs. driving. the 10th doesn’t drive.

      • I guess there’s a difference between a suburban millennial and an urban one cause most of my friends who live within a 30 min public transportation ride from NYC don’t have cars.

        We have one with a few months left on the lease. With zipcar around the block, fully intend to not lease another one. Whats the point? We can walk everywhere and save tons of money on auto insurance, payments, gas, maintenance etc.

        • I live in Bayonne and previously lived in Jersey City. love having the ability to get up and drive anywhere whenever I want with my own car and not a rental. and I get to use my car to drive for Lyft on the side. not bad.

  5. Truly a combination of poor planning and not looking to the future by various county’s . Most of our younger generations have grown up in private homes with all amenities and good schools, but they are not able to offer that to their children now, they simply cannot afford to live in this state. Prices for homes are high and so are taxes which have to be paid forever. Their second expense is cars for both husband and wife, another big expense. Public transportation is terrible, almost non existent. Better planning has to be done to keep them here near their families. Hopefully change will happen.


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